November 20, 2004


William F. Buckley on the academic divide:

When Robert Bork was a professor at the Yale Law School he had a telephone call from the young editor of the Yale Daily News, who was in a tizzy. The paper was going to press with its findings on the faculty vote in the upcoming election, President Lyndon Johnson vs. Senator Barry Goldwater. The editor explained that the paper was kind of embarrassed: As things stood, the next day’s edition would reveal that only a single member of the Yale faculty (of approximately 1,000) was going to vote for Barry Goldwater on Tuesday.

These days, such places have very little influence on US elections.

Posted by Tim Blair at November 20, 2004 04:35 PM

How little has changed on university campuses in the last four decades! In the early sixties while an economics major one quickly learned the price of straying from an instructor's Moscow dictated orthodoxy. Not keeping one's mouth shut and head down inevitably would certainly cost a student their grade.
Forty years later my son tells me the same tactics prevail among our learned university
pedagogues though the new century has witnessed the emrgence of the professoriat's Cheka. In a 1984 like atmosphere more than a few students now ruthlessly enforce left wing purity on American university campuses.
In the old days most students rolled their eyes, duly nodded, and seasoned the propaganda fed us by our ivory tower windbags with more than a healthy sprinling of cynicism. One can only hope today's youthful victims of academia's indoctrination and their professor incited goons in higher education's police force for the prevention of vice and promotion of leftist virtue have even less success at indoctrination than did the ivory tower windbags of forty years ago.

Posted by: socalman at November 20, 2004 at 05:36 PM

I entered college in 1963. With interruptions for the war and other matters, didn't finish undergraduate work until 1971. I was gone from my university from 1965 to 1968. The faculty hadn't turned over much when I returned, but they were a different class, in every way.

More overtly political, more outspoken, more Marxist, and not coincidentally, more inane and stupid. I learned very quickly that every one of them had been blacklisted in the 1950's, every one of them knew Jack Kerouac, every one of them voted for Henry Wallace, every one of them knew someone who knew the Rosenbergs, every one of them had been beaten up by a strike buster, every one of them had parents who worked in dark satanic mills, every one of them...and so on. Every one of them was also full of shit.

This was a collection of self-promoting and self-dramatizing assholes, (but somehow I missed that as a callow freshman and sophomore). Unaccountable and unproductive bureacracies protected from competition develop clots of the worst and weakest among us, university types, lefties, people with no hope elsewhere. It's the only place to have power without merit or effort.

My sons' experience thirty years later was exactly the same. I wouldn't worry about it much. The universities now provide employment to the unemployable and keeps a lot of idiots from having to live under bridges and shelters.

Posted by: Crazy Chester at November 21, 2004 at 12:35 AM

I was in a position to observe the faculties and administrations at the most selective (as they like to call themselves) institutions of higher learning in the northeast for the period mid 60's to mid 90's. During that approximately 30 years, I never heard a single word that deviated from template leftwing propaganda.

My hat's off to that lone Goldwater voter in 1964. It was very brave indeed and I wonder if his or her career floundered after that act of selfless independence.

Posted by: erp at November 21, 2004 at 01:11 AM

I am an academic in the northeast US, and I am amazed at the strength of leftist orthodoxy on campuses. It's socially unacceptable to profess any sort of conservatism. To do so would harm your career, regardless of your academic discipline. That's why I laugh (bitterly) when I hear leftists complain about the "suppression of dissent." I suspect that there are many "closet conservatives" on campuses, but they don't dare admit it in the current Stalinist intellectual environment.

Posted by: NJ Sue at November 21, 2004 at 03:53 AM

NJ Sue:

I live in Connecticut and it can't be any better here than where you are. The orthodoxy you describe on campuses has rooted itself in grammar schools too, with the same virulence at higher levels. Maybe worse.

Posted by: Crazy Chester at November 21, 2004 at 05:19 AM

A few decades out of college and I still wince when I recall what I did just to ensure I received good grades...

I loved history and looked forward to history classes when I entered college. History wasn't my major, but I did love learning about it.

I learned much more than history from my first history class. I learned that college professors did NOT want any views but their own. The way to get along, and get good grades, was to parrot the views held by the professor. It's a good thing I caught on early. I found 99.9% of all the professors I had only allowed THEIR views to be held.

One of the first things I learned was that when producing an essay, or a paper, it was NOT acceptable to ignore the professor's 'pet theories'.

Including the professor's 'pet theories' in your work pretty much guaranteed an excellent grade. You had to work pretty hard to fail if the professor believed you had incorporated his/her 'pet theories' as your own.

Not mentioning any of the professor's 'pet theories', in essays or papers, would cause you to receive an OK grade.

Including interpretations contrary to the professor's was a guaranteed FAILING grade. Didn't matter who, or what, was used to back up assertions. The professors did not want any theories other than their own.

So, I made sure I included the professors' biases and theories, as if they were my own, on all essays and papers. Produced some crap papers, but I did VERY WELL.

Have always felt guilty that many of the grades I received in college were received because I gave the professors what they wanted. I wanted my professors to believe that I had fully digested their 'pet theories'. When approaching a paper or essay, I would focus on giving the professor what he/she wanted. The subject of the paper was a mere prop to be used as you stroked the professor's ego.

The classes I had to work hardest at were the classes that had no, or very few, essays or papers. I couldn't parrot the professor's theories for a good grade. I actually had to learn the subject.

It's no wonder our academicians have a very hard time grasping views that are contrary to their own and are shocked when their views are criticized. They hold such power on our campuses that they very rarely encounter anyone who disagrees with them. They live in a cocoon nestled in an echo chamber.

Posted by: Chris Josephson at November 21, 2004 at 07:36 AM

Went to college in the '60s, '80s, '90s, now teaching in one. I find a few less orthodox Lefties, but not that many. Also, the hardcore Left still in place is totally self-satisfied with their obvious intellectual superiority. If they tilt their noses any farther up they'll drown in the next hard rain.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at November 21, 2004 at 07:43 AM

An appropriate feature in the Spectator: The Decline of the Intelligentsia...

Posted by: richard mcenroe at November 21, 2004 at 11:45 AM

We old time veterans of the ideology tyrants
on university campuses must admit the squads of student who now serve as professorial truth enforcers is a post 1960's twist. In the early 1960's nearly all students I met saw the professors (at least those in the liberal arts and humanities)as narrow minded pompous
self-aggrandizing prats. Does anyone remember Jerry Farber's book Student as N-----?
Few students other than at Bezerkly or Columbia bought into the professoriat's party orthodoxy
during the early and middle sixties.
My son,now a university student has found that the vast majority of today's college students have been educationally nourished on anti-American, anti-western, anti-capitalist, statist multi-cultural malarkey for so long acceptance of
their professors leftist gospel is nearly universal.
An interesting professorial refinement only budding in the early sixties but now seemingly
perfected by the capitalist loathing "anti-materialist professoriat are their highly refined textbook authoring scams carefully crafted and honed to screw their students out of buckoo bucks at the bookstore in order to enhance their personal financial well-being.
The pampered letist professoriat of the US learned hypocrisy well from their old mentors in Moscow and have acquired like lusts not unlike those of Soviet and other Eastern Bloc apparatchiks for capitalisms good life. Can publically provided Zils, dachas, luxury holiday resorts, hunting lodges, Paris designer fashions, and well-stocked exclusive shopping emporiums for the profit loathing professoriat be far off.
As a high school teacher I have found that their staffs are much less ideologically pure than those of higher education or elementary schools and seem to display more deviancy of
Elementary school staffs seem to hew dutifully
to the leftist line from classroom teacher to head administrator. Via contact with the student output of elementary schools and personal experience with my child I can readily
verify the leftist domination of elementary schools. Clueless femrads and their feminazi colleagues have been wrteaking havoc on the nation's elementary schools for more the two decades.
In high school history classes students insist that Martin Luther was named for Martin Luther King, and that Raphael, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Michelangelo were ninja turtles not Renaissance greats. Nearly 80% of high school students are
incapable of identifying 3/5 as a fraction and could never hope despite repeated lessons on the topic be capable of identifying the 3/5 Compromise at the US Constitutional Convention in 1787.

Posted by: socalman at November 21, 2004 at 12:14 PM

I am an undergrad again at the moment. Did an economics degree in the late 80s, and am now studting History and Psychology. My god, have the gender feminists taken over or what! Just about every History class has Foucault and a clutch of Americvan and French "post structuralist" feminazis on the Reading list.

Posted by: neoconchick at November 21, 2004 at 01:15 PM

Indeed! The instruction of mathematics and the natural sciences aboslutely MUST be restructured through the filter of Radical Feminism! After all, impiricism is a patriacal construct serving "the man", and he can't actually permit any competency to exist, can we?

Any disagreement represents the "crushing of dissent!"

Sheesh. If they've resorted to shoving their ancient 'radical' ideas on a captive audience of students, they really have become intellectually bankrupt.

Posted by: Joe N. at November 22, 2004 at 12:39 AM

I was in a philosophy class taught by an avowed marxist from either Peru or Chile. It was 1983, I was in my middle 20's and a convert to conservatism in 1980. He and I went round and round in class, day after day. Finally one day, in exasperation, he said I sounded like Ronald Reagan, meaning it as an insult. He was astonished when I smiled and said "Thanks!". LOL One of my proudest moments in academia! LOL

Posted by: RandMan at November 22, 2004 at 02:25 AM

One of the funniest things I ever saw at university was a ex-East German engineer, who was attending a bridging course to get his Australian qualifications, arguing with university communists.

The gentleman had a lot to say about what it was actually like inside a communist regime, and the university set didn't know what to do because their standard retorts couldn't be made to fit him.

Posted by: Pauly at November 22, 2004 at 06:49 PM